Can Tiger Woods win all the tournaments that he is entered in?

He won every major championship he played in 1953, and every official tournament he entered except for the Seminole Pro-Am Invitational, where he tied for second. Then again, Hogan only played six times that year because of battered legs from a bus accident.

Tiger Woods will play no more than 17 events on the PGA Tour this year, so a 2-0 start might be a little early for anyone to get excited.

Even so, expectations were as high as the desert sun at noon when Woods left Arizona with yet another victory. It was his fourth in a row on tour since early September, all done in record fashion.

He set a 72-hole scoring record at Cog Hill outside Chicago and won by eight shots at the Tour Championship and the Buick Invitational, both record margins. On Sunday, he smoked Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in the Accenture Match Play Championship, the biggest blowout in the final in 10 years of a tournament that Woods considers the toughest to win this side of a major.

“I think this certainly is the best stretch I’ve ever played,” Woods said.

Strong words – downright scary – considering that Woods won nine times, including three straight majors, in 2000 and that he won six consecutive PGA Tour events at the end of 2006, a streak that reached seven until losing in the Match Play the following year.

Woods, who also won in Dubai earlier this month, has never before started a season with three straight victories, and it is hard not to speculate how long he can keep winning given his history at some of the tournaments coming up.

Next is the Arnold Palmer Invitational March 13-16 at Bay Hill, where Woods won four straight times from 2000 to 2003. The week after that is the CA Championship at Doral, where he has won the last three years.

Then the Masters April 10-13.

“He just morphs his game into the courses,” Cink said. “So I don’t think there’s a course that’s going to present him with a real obstacle as far as him not being a favourite.”

Woods did little to squash the notion of a perfect season when someone asked him if winning them all was within reason.

“That’s my intent. That’s why you play,” Woods said after collecting his 63rd career tour victory and his 15th title in the World Golf Championships. “If you don’t believe you can win an event, don’t show up.”

But it also is his intent to make every putt and hit every shot just how he wants. No one does that, of course. No one wins every tournament. Byron Nelson holds the record with 11 straight victories during a year in which he won 18 times in 30 events. That means he lost 12 times that year.

A perfect season in golf?

“I do find that laughable,” Hal Sutton said Monday. “Anybody who knows golf knows that ain’t going to happen. You can only own this game for a certain period of time. Even if your name is Tiger Woods, you don’t own it forever.”

Sutton was among those who beat Woods during a time when the world’s No. 1 player looked unbeatable, going head-to-head with him at The Players Championship in 2000 and winning by one shot.

He watched part of the championship match Sunday “until I got bored.”

“Tiger is definitely more dominating,” Sutton said.

Curtis Strange is among those who played in the prime years of Woods and Jack Nicklaus, and he said it is pointless to compare generations. But he also found speculation of a perfect season to be “a little over the top.”

“He is by far and away the best player,” Strange said. “We’ve never had a player this much better than the second-best player. He’s unbelievable, really. But he’s not unbeatable. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just because he beat Stewart Cink 8 and 7.”

As usual, the best comparisons are to Woods himself.

Most consider his best golf to be from late 1999 through the 2001 Masters, when he won 16 of 32 times on the PGA Tour and four consecutive majors. Dating to the 2006 British Open, Woods has won 15 of his last 24 events, a 63 per cent clip.

“He just has this strong sense of belief in himself that he’s just never out of it,” Cink said. “He’s never going to mess up. He’s just always in control. He never loses his composure.”

The more he talked, the more Cink made Woods out to be a machine.

“I think maybe we ought to slice him open to see what’s inside there,” Cink said. “Maybe nuts and bolts.”

Not many thought Woods could ever produce better results than 2000, the benchmark of greatness in his era. Woods, however, has been saying all along that his plan was to get better. And with each victory, what seemed impossible is not unthinkable.

Woods knows he was fortunate to win the Match Play. In the first round, he rallied from three down with five holes to play against J.B. Holmes by winning four straight holes with three birdies and a 35-foot eagle. In the third round, Aaron Baddeley twice stood over putts inside 12 feet to win the match before Woods prevailed on the 20th hole.

“I played 117 holes this week,” Woods said. “I could have easily played 16 and then been home. That’s the fickleness of match play.”

And such is the fickle nature of golf.

Odds are, Woods won’t win them all.

But if he were to even win three of his next six on the PGA Tour, that would give him 18 wins in his last 30 starts, essentially matching Nelson’s golden year in 1945.

And even that might not be enough to satisfy him.

“You can always get better,” Woods said. “You can always keep improving.”

Mickelson shows patience and wins

LOS ANGELES – It has been 20 years since Phil Mickelson first stepped inside the ropes at Riviera, a 17-year-old amateur in awe of the fabled course off Sunset Boulevard, inspired by names like Hogan, Snead and Nelson that were on the trophy.

Lefty finally joined them on Sunday, adding to his impressive collection of PGA Tour titles on the Left Coast.

Mickelson made two clutch putts on the back nine, seized control when Jeff Quinney self-destructed with the putter, and took a relaxing walk up the 18th fairway with a victory he felt was a long time coming.

He closed with a 1-under 70 for a two-shot victory, the 33rd of his career, with 16 of those in California and Arizona.

“The fact I haven’t won this and it has taken me so long to win makes it that much more special,” Mickelson said.

 
if(!sops){if(p.sops){var sops=p.sops;}else{var sops=””;}} if(dUnitBox==true){boxAd=true;} if(boxAd){if((!dUnitSky)||(!dUnitSuper)||(dUnitBox)){place300x250();}}

A year ago, Lefty was poised to win in LA until he bogeyed the 18th hole and lost in a playoff against Charles Howell III. This time, he was steady down the stretch as Quinney’s putter changed from a magic wand to a ball-and-chain.

He made four straight putts outside 10 feet, only to make three straight bogeys starting on the 13th hole. The first two came from missing consecutive par putts from seven feet that allowed Mickelson a cushion over the closing holes.

“I just put a little too much pressure on the putter on the back nine,” said Quinney, who made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that only changed the final score. He closed with a 71.

British Open champion Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald each shot 68 and tied for third, although this was a two-man race from the start, and a one-man celebration over the final two holes.

Mickelson finished at 12-under 272 and earned US$1,116,000.

He might never catch Tiger Woods in the world ranking, PGA Tour victories or in the majors, but for now he has done something the world’s No. 1 player hasn’t – win at Riviera.

Jack Nicklaus never won here, either.

Riviera was Woods’ first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old. He has not played the last two years.

Mickelson made his PGA Tour debut at Torrey Pines at age 17, then showed up a week later at Riviera. As much as the course impressed him, it also confounded him over the years, and he played there sparingly until returning with a renewed commitment last year.

“I didn’t understand the nuances of this golf course, where you can and can’t hit it,” he said. “And learning those nuances and how to hit the shots into some of these greens has helped me over the years. Last year was when I started to put it together, and I’m fortunate to break through this year.”

His work on the West Coast is not over, even though he has won in every city of regular PGA Tour stops, from ocean courses of Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach, soggy La Costa Resort, desert courses in Phoenix, Palm Springs and Tucson, and now Riviera.

Next up is the Accenture Match Play Championship, which he has never won.

The victory came one week after taking an 11 on the 14th hole at Pebble Beach to miss the cut, and two weeks after he lost a playoff toJ.B. Holmes in the FBR Open.

Mickelson said the key to winning Riviera was a change in his putter.

He changed golf balls to a slightly softer cover, and only last week realized that he didn’t recognize the same sound of the ball striking his putter, which caused him to hit harder. He changed the insert in his putter to return the same sound and feel, and it paid off.

Two of his biggest putts came on the back nine.

Quinney had holed a 15-foot putt on No. 8 to close within one shot, then took the lead at the turn with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 9 and a bogey for Mickelson, whose seven-iron from the top of a bunker sailed well to the right and landed in the 10th fairway.

Mickelson hit driver beyond the 310-yard 10th hole, hit a flop shot to six feet and made the tricky putt to pull even. With a one-shot lead on the par-3 14th, he blasted out of a bunker some seven feet short, while Quinney had a little less than that for par.

Mickelson’s putt was true, Quinney missed on the low side and the margin was two.

“Being able to go first and get that in, I think that made his putt a little more difficult,” Mickelson said.

Quinney held on as long as he could, making a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 11th after Lefty had chipped to a foot for birdie. Moments after CBS Sports posted a graphic showing Quinney had gone 214 holes without a three-putt, the streak ended with a bogey at the worst time. That was the start of his undoing.

Mickelson attributed his West Coast success to being eager to play after his long winter break, and competing at tournaments that he grew up watching as a kid. The victory Sunday brought back memories of his first trip to this tournament.

“Then I was trying to make the cut,” Mickelson said. “This week I was trying to win. I like it better now.”

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started